Friday, April 19, 2013

A Comic Book Scavenger Hunt, A-Z: Queen Sonja

Title: Queen Sonja
Issue: #2
Release: November 2009
Writer: Joshua Ortega
Artist: Mel Rubi
Store: Earth Prime Comics (Burlington, Vermont)

Image via The Nemedian Chronicles

Queen Sonja showcases Red Sonja, another member of the Conan universe.  The character is loosely based on Red Sonya of Rogatino in Robert E. Howard's short story "The Shadow of the Vulture," first published in 1934.  The character made her comic book debut in 1973, Conan the Barbarian #23.  She has become a prototype for the muscle-bound, scantily-clad fantasy heroine.  Comic Buyers Guide named her the sexiest woman in comics.  The publisher has rated this series T+ - for older teens.

If you like Red Sonja, you should go visit my new friend Timothy Brannan at Red Sonja: She Devil with a Sword.

Any interest in joining a bloggers' book club?  Please visit my link here.

My scavenger hunt was pretty straight-forward: find comic books off the rack with titles starting from A-Z.  Go check out the rest of the participants in this year's A-Z challenge.  The official site is here.


  1. 'She has become a prototype for the muscle-bound, scantily-clad fantasy heroine.'

    Can't you only have one prototype? I dunno, I'm probly splittin' hairs, here, but I'm thinking *the* prototype for this sort of heroine can be found here.

    Also, it goes without saying that scantily-clad women warriors change the color of my eyes with fury. Or they have in the past. I'm trying to keep my ire in check these days.

    1. It's alright, I'll split hairs with you...

      Prototype - I suppose if one is to be semantically accurate, there can be only one.

      Technically, Sonja predates Barbarella - originally a comic book character, interestingly enough.

      As for fury - Given that the target audience (not to mention the creators) of comics are mostly straight men with all sorts of idealized fantasies, it's not too surprising that an unrealistic, dimension-lacking template has been used to create most of the female characters. Sonja, at least, has an extensive history upon which to build.

      Hey, Q was a tough one! And c'mon, Conan himself isn't exactly Hamlet.

    2. Well, this is a conversation between a coupla pedants at heart so semantic accuracy is fair game, I'm thinking. Also,I thought Sonja was '73 while Barbarella was '68?

      And, yeah, I get the target audience thing, but despite everything, I remain a dyed-in-the-wool idealist, a little worse for the wear (okay, sometimes a lot) but I still think our stories shape our culture just because templates turn into ideas turn into philosophies which influence realities.

      I *yearn* for class. Something inside me positively cries out for a way of relating that encompasses the whole person without giving precedence to the external. And because men are oriented to stimulus in a very visual way, the more enduring part of the package of another human being can easily become eclipsed if the outside is on either end of the spectrum -- (very) attractive or unattractive. That's all I'm moanin' about.

      As for Conan and all the other oiled-up chests of the male gender, as a straight female who has always really, really, really dug boys for a hundred different reasons, I don't get the attraction on that count, at all.

    3. Moan away. It's a worthy criticism.

      I hope you know that I agree with you on all of the above. A big part of the reason we love Miyazaki at our house is the more complex female characters his stories offer. And really, Conan and others like him are intended more as a man's ideal of a man than a woman's.

    4. Her first -comic- appearance was '73. That was not when the character originated.

      As for the prototype of all women heroes in comics, though, including Sonja, you have to go back to Wonder Woman. They've all come from her. Wonder Woman was originally designed as nothing more than a girlfriend for Superman; how much more superficial can you get than that?

    5. It's weird because I really like and even identify with Wonder Woman. I've even included references to her in the Middle Grade book I just finished writing.

    6. A lot of it's the presentation and longevity of the character. The longer a female character lasts, the more likely she is to be fleshed out (no pun intended (okay, so the pun was intended)) as a character. Wonder Woman has become a strong character with many admirable traits. A role model. But she really started out as eye candy.

    7. Well-stated. Even the cringe-inducing pun. :)

    8. Wonder Woman's creator William Moulton Marston (also a controversial psychologist) intended her as a symbol of his own feminist ideal - a far cry from the feminist movement which would evolve in the late '60s/early '70s but still fairly revolutionary for the early '40s. Marston also invented the polygraph - thus the truth-telling lasso.

    9. Yeah, but his instructions from DC were to make a female character to be the girlfriend of Superman.

    10. Right. So, the creator was on the progressive side. DC, not so much.

    11. Where does Lois Lane fit in?

    12. Lois actually started as what she is for the most part, a rival reporter to Clark Kent. It was one of those kind of things where the audience got to know that Clark was Superman, so it made sense that he was able to do what he could do, but, then, there was this woman reporter always beating him to the punch on things.
      And she was intended as a love interest for Clark.

      Which is the thing: Lois was the love interest for -Clark-.
      DC wanted a love interest for Superman, so they commissioned Wonder Woman.

      The readers, though, never went for that. Clark liked Lois, so Superman did, too.

    13. I love Wikipedia...

      Lois Lane has been part of the Superman story from the very first comic. The character was inspired by Torchy Blane, a 1930s B-movie newspaper reporter. Torchy was tough and smart, as was the original Lois - again, by 1930s standards.

    14. When I was a kid, I had this purse that I wrote on the back of in pen, 'This purse belongs to Lois Lane. If found, please return.'

      I liked Lois when I found out she spelled Pulitzer to calm herself in crazy situations. The irony is that, at sevenish, I didn't know what the Pulitzer was.

      Hmm. Looked for it on youtube and found a lot of the Superman II sequences with the purported hydrogen bomb in Paris but don't have the time to watch them all to find the scene. I am noticing, though, the origin of the seeds of damsel and knight pretty darn deep in my psyche watching bits of this film for the first time in decades.

      Just left Cyg's disturbing post thread on Wonder Woman and now this. Consternation.

    15. Just read Cyg's WW thread.

      Something to consider: maybe it doesn't really matter what the creator's proclivities were or how they are manifest in aspects of his creation. The character had already evolved substantially by the time she came into the life of young Suze.

    16. UGH! Just wrote this huge comment about Bild Lilli and Barbie and Wonder Woman and then went to find this link: to put in the comment and lost all I'd written.

      I don't think I have it in me to type it all again at the moment ... :P

    17. I'm just going to work under the assumption that your comment was brilliant.

      Thanks for the Oracle link in any case.

    18. Well, that was nice. As was your first comment, which I really appreciated and *did* in fact consider. Cyg's offered to send me some of his old comics with the 1987 reboot of WW so no harm, no foul in the end, methinks.

      And I really loved the art on the second image of Oracle in Mark's post. It has a truly haunting sensibility with two distinct stages in her life as well as the cloud of bats, a lovely portrayal of an intriguing red-headed heroine. I liked his post a lot.

    19. I don't really know Oracle at all - still more to explore.

      The '80s were a fun time for comics. I'm finding a lot of the books I like best are from that era.

  2. I've never read a Red Sonja comic. I can barely understand the "bad girl"/cheesecake genre.

    You could've tracked down a Quantum & Woody!

    1. Renee Montoya! Now there's a fleshed-out, kick-butt, female character for ya! :-)

    2. Tony - Quantum & Woody would have been great if I'd seen it. The series is set to relaunch this July. The Question would have been good, though I'm very pleased to have avoided both DC and Marvel entirely in this scavenger hunt.

      Cygnus - Way to tie the two comment threads together!